ByáKATHRYN MAY, OTTAWA CITIZEN
A group of Muslim students arrived at the Ottawa Mission Saturday morning to hand out bundles of gloves, socks and hats to the homeless and met up with a Christian youth group pullingáup in áa van loaded with bags of winter clothes to do the same.
By the time the two groups gave away all their donations, along with dozens of cookies and jumbo Thermoses of hot chocolate, they were exchanging names and numbers to talk about teaming up for a similar event in the future.
ôOh yes, thatĺs what it is about, giving back to the community,ö said Ali Fakhri, an organizer with the charity Who Is Hussain after exchanging names with the leaders of the youth group from the Calvary Pentecostal church in Carleton Place.
ôWe are looking to team up others and get involved as much as possible regardless of race, religion or creed. That doesnĺt matter.ö
Fakhri said his organization is about humanitarianism and wants to work with groupsáthat help others and do good deeds. The group recently held an interfaith candlelight vigil for victims of terrorism; holds an annual drive for blood donors and on Boxing Day volunteers serve hot chocolate to passersby on Rideau Street. This was the organizationĺs first charity event to give away winter clothing in the holiday season.
Fakhri, a high school student at St Patrickĺs High School, helped organize the group of eight young Muslim men and women who set out to walk the streets of downtown Ottawa to give away bags ofáwinter hats, gloves and socks to the city homeless.
But they never dreamed they would hand out nearly all of the 55 bags at their first stop outside the Ottawa Mission. The handful of men standing outside got the first few bags and as the students headed towards Rideau Street to distribute the rest, they were quickly surrounded by men streaming out of the mission doors curious to see what was wrapped in those packages.
ôI never expected that,ö said Fakhri.
ôWe could have done more bags but this was our first time out and we didnĺt have an idea of what we should expect. ôBut I felt it was successful. Itĺs all about that smile you can bring to a needy person while bringing a sense of community, holiday season and Christmas. Thatĺs what we were aiming for,ö
ôThatĺs awesome, thanks,ö said Carlos DeAngelies, who took one of the bags. He said Ottawans are generous and ôso good-hearted.ö He said heĺs already had people bring him bags of toiletries, clothes, socks, gloves and $5 Tim Horton coffee cards.
A little further down the street, Dave Soulliere said he was happy to get the bag but he really didnĺt need socks.
ôI have a lot of socks. Itĺs like spring here so I didnĺt really need them. But,ö he said, ôIátake everything.ö
Diana Billings of the Calvary Pentecostal Church said Saturdayĺs clothing donation at the mission was the second one for youth group. Both times, they filled backpacks full of clothes and toiletries.
ôWe talk about the importance of giving with them and how it is not about us. ůáso to do that practically we get them out there to give things out,ö she said.
But 67-year-old Bryon Ohrling, who just moved to Ottawa from Winnipeg, átook a cookie andárefused anything else.
ôIf you do anything for me, kids, pray for me. My name is Bryon and pray some doors open up for me.ö